PHOTOS: Rooney Mara Is Vogue‘s Reluctant February Cover Girl

For someone who is so frequently referred to as a “fashion darling,” Rooney Mara sure seems uncomfortable with every last facet of the role. The 27-year-old covers the February issue of Vogue, and while she looks enough at ease in the David Sims-lensed spread, her interview with Hamish Bowles tells another story entirely.

The actress “generally loathes having her picture taken,” Bowles writes, and although she had to face this aversion regularly when she burst on to the scene last year as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, she still doesn’t seem to be quite past it. “Why should I ‘fake smile’?” Mara asks. “It feels disingenuous to me. I want to smile when something happy happens, so if I do smile, you know it’s real.” While she cracked the slightest hint of one for her November 2011 Vogue cover, this time around she sticks to moody expressions that pair well with the designs by Helmut Lang, Calvin Klein, and Alexander Wang that she sports inside the issue.

Mara was a regular fixture on Best Dressed lists last year and is set to co-host this year’s Met Costume Institute Gala, “PUNK: Chaos to Couture”, with Givenchy‘s Riccardo Tisci, but she isn’t a fan of the red carpet circus. At all.

“[It’s] a nightmare! It’s a panic attack waiting to happen. I don’t even like people to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. When we wrap a film and everyone claps and cheers, I turn red. And then I have to walk out onto the middle of this carpet and there are all these photographers, and they’re all screaming at you. And usually there’s a party at the other end of it, so it’s not even like I have solace at the end of the carpet! It’s like then I have to walk into my other nightmare!”

Of course, she knows that it’s a nightmare she has to face — albeit reluctantly:

“For Dragon Tattoo, I had eight different premieres, this many different photo calls. It’s a lot to plan for. It’s not like you can just show up. The thing is, it’s kind of an annoying part of the job—because I’m not a model, and I don’t want to be. I didn’t try to be a style icon. I’m just not that interested in that world. But it does matter, and either I can fight that or I just have to accept that it is a part of my job, and I may as well wear things that I like and that represent me.”

Not that the fashion game is all a near-torture experience for Ms. Mara. She does admit that she and her stylist, Ryan Hastings, clicked immediately. “I love him,” she says. “He’s very quiet and thoughtful, and we just instantly got along.”

Check out Mara’s cover and spread below, along with a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot:


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